Watch Out, Apple: The Kindle Fire Is Getting Bigger
Size isn't everything when it comes to tablets, but Amazon.com (AMZN) is apparently hoping to make that point moot.
DigiTimes -- the Taiwanese tech publication that's a hotbed of supplier rumors -- is reporting that Amazon plans to supersize its Kindle Fire soon.
The 7-inch model that has attracted millions of buyers with its entry-level $199 price isn't going away anytime soon. Sources simply tell DigiTimes that a second Kindle Fire tablet -- this one with a 10.1-inch screen -- may hit the market as soon as the third quarter.
In other words, the tablet wars are about to get even more interesting.
Tailoring the Tablets
An earlier rumor had Amazon working on an 8.9-inch version of the Kindle Fire that it introduced in November. That move wouldn't have made a lot of sense. Apple's (AAPL) iPad is a 9.7-inch tablet. If Amazon felt that it was losing sales to the iPad because the original Kindle Fire is too small, making it less small isn't the ideal solution.
Going slightly bigger is a smarter call, giving Amazon the flexibility to price its bigger tablet in the $299 neighborhood -- a price point that would still be very competitive with the iPad.
It's still easy to be skeptical. A tablet, after all, can be too big. If it's too bulky -- awkward to move around or just uncomfortable to hold -- it's going to be a problem.
Ignoring Steve Jobs
Apple surely didn't arrive at 9.7 inches by accident, and Steve Jobs used to mock smaller tablets as "tweeners" because they were too big to be a smartphone but too small to be a functional tablet.
Consumers don't necessarily agree. Amazon hasn't had a problem selling its Kindle Fire tablets, though the company has yet to reveal the actual number of units sold beyond CEO Jeff Bezos pointing out that "millions" were sold over the holidays.
Clearly there's a market for the 7-inch tablets that fit comfortably in a small pocketbook and perhaps even rather large cargo pockets. Barnes & Noble's (BKS) Nook Tablet and Research In Motion's (RIMM) PlayBook are also 7-inch devices.
However, at a time when it seems as if Apple may be going for a bigger screen for its next iPhone -- possibly testing Jobs' own "tweener" definition -- it's worth noting that Amazon also isn't afraid to grow its Kindle Fire business.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any stocks in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple and Amazon.com. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended writing puts on Barnes & Noble and creating a bull call spread position in Apple.